Apparently I’ve gotten over my cream anxiety. This is a Craigslist classic that I’ve had filed away for a while now. And for good reason, it’s as excellent as the fat count would lead you to believe. I halved the recipe, and it made about 4 servings. All measurements are approximate.
6 cups of brioche or sweet baguette (crust removed) cut into 1 inch cubes. Make sure that the bread is either a couple of days old or dry it out in a 200 degree oven for 1 hour or so.
2 cups of heavy cream
1 cup of milk
1 1/2 cup of diced leeks (white and light green only)
1 1/2 lb of mushrooms (if you are in a fancy mood chanterelles are incredible, otherwise use a mix of oyster, crimini, shitake, etc)
1 cup of grated gruyere
1/2 cup of white wine
4 tbs of butter
1 tb thyme
2 tsp of salt or more or less to taste
3 tsp of black pepper or more to taste
Heat up a pan and add 3 tbs of the butter. Add the mushrooms and half the salt and let all water leach out and keep sauteeing until they brown a bit. Add the leaks and cook till they begin to soften. Add the white wine and reduce almost entirely. Let this mushroom leak base cool down to room temp.
Beat the eggs and mix in the milk and heavy cream. This is basically a custard base. Season this custard with thyme, salt and pepper.
Butter a casserole dish and place the cubed bread in it. Add the mushroom-leak base and the gruyere cheese and mix well. Pour the custard over it and make sure it is evenly distributed with the other ingredients. You may have to mix them around.
Bake in a 300 degree oven for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. The top and bottom should be a bit brown, but the center should be soft and somewhat creamy, like really good bread pudding.
Comments: It was fantastic, however I was forced to make some modifications—there were no mushrooms when I went to buy them! I subbed peeled eggplant cubes, and had great success. I also used an ordinary baguette and left the crust on, as it wasn’t very tough.